FINDLAY — Pemberville Eastwood ended Colonel Crawford’s softball season Wednesday. Eastwood rallied from a 3-2deficit for a 12-3 victory in a Division III reg9ijnal semifinal.
The Eagles finished the season at 20-6 after having qualified for their 15th regional tournament.
“We’ve had a great season and it’s been fun and the future is bright,”said Eagles coach Chuck Huggins. “Our ace and our catcher will be back and we have a lot of great players coming back. We will miss our five seniors, but we care about each other and will work towards a strong start to next season.”
Crawford started things off against Eastwood pitcher Ashley Hitchcock. Alexus Burkhart struck out looking in the lead-off spot and Karlie Kurtzman followed with a swinging “K”. Sydney Studer would step into the batter’s box after seeing Hitchcock display some early dominance of the Crawford batters. Studer, with two outs and two strikes into her count, took the Eastwood pitcher deep to left field for a solo homerun. Lydia Strouse attempted to follow the momentum, but was set down on strikes to end the top of the first.
The black and yellow Eagles would see a relatively quick first inning as well. With Studer in the circle, the defense recorded a quick groundout up the middle to the pitcher. Sydney would then strike out the next hitter, but she would end up at first after the pitch made it to the backstop. Another wild pitch put the runner in scoring position before Studer settled down and struck out the remaining two Eastwood hitters.
Both teams went 1-2-3 in the second with Crawford going down on three more Hitchcock strikeouts and Eastwood hitting into two long fly-outs to center fielder Abbie Bradshaw and another Studer “K”. The top of the third went much the same for the Crawford offense: a fly-out and two more strikeouts.
Eastwood would finally get on the board in the bottom of the third inning. After a quick strikeout, Studer hit a batter. Alissa Ray came up for Eastwoood and would take Studer out of the deepest part of the park to give Eastwood the 2-1 advantage.
In the top of the fourth, small ball was implemented by Crawford Chuck Huggins. Kurtzman led-off the inning with a single and Studer followed her with a four-pitch walk. With runners at first and second, Huggins had Strouse, the clean-up hitter lay down a sacrifice bunt. Strouse executed the sacrifice perfectly to advance both Kurtzman and Studer into scoring position. Bradshaw would then strikeout, leaving just one out to get the potential leading run across home plate. Caitlin Koschnick was able to reach first on a slow, infield grounder due to a throwing error. On that very same play both Kurtzman and Studer would come in to score to give Crawford the 3-2 lead after Kerri Reynolds’ flied out to the pitcher to end the top of the fourth.
Unfortunately for Colonel Crawford, that would be the last bit of offense they would see throughout the remainder of the contest. Through the fifth, sixth and seventh innings, Crawford would send just 11 batters to the plate. Of the 11, seven would strike out, one walked and just Reynolds recorded a single in the top of the seventh.
The bottom of fifth was the game changer for the Eastwood Eagles. Eastwood got to Studer and her backing defense for eight hits in the inning with four of the eight coming with two outs. After a quick out, it was two consecutive singles and then a 2-RBI double for Carleigh Coffield. Coffield would then score after the next batter, Madeline Schuessler-Recker delivered another double. Later in the inning, with the bases loaded, Hitchcock delivered a huge blast to left field for a grand slam to seal the deal for Eastwood.
“We left a lot of plays on the field. And against a great team like Eastwood, you have to make every play,” Huggins said.
Hits for Crawford: Studer- solo homerun; Kurtzman- single; Reynolds- single
Runs for Crawford: Studer (2) and Kurtzman
Losing pitcher: Studer- 6 IP, 12 R, 11 H, 8 K, 5 BB and 2 HR allowed
Winning pitcher: Hitchcock- 7 IP, 3 R, 3 H, 16 K, 2 BB and a HR allowed
Left on base: Colonel Crawford- 2 and Eastwood- 5
Eastwood’s Eagles will now advance to the Division III Elite 8 where they will meet Cardington on Saturday, May 27 at noon. Cardington, the No. 4 team in the state at 24-4, defeated Coldwater 8-4.
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